Fez's Daily Debate: Should (more) museums and galleries be free?

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Saracen's Fez
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Back in UK politics today (because I figured this is fundamentally still a politics question as much as it's a history/art one) with this Daily Debate question:


Should (more) museums and galleries be free?

Currently certain museums and galleries, mostly those in London and to some extent in other large cities, and a few of great national importance outside. In smaller towns and cities, you're more likely to have to pay. There are two ways to take this: first, is it right that museums and galleries are given state subsidy to open free of charge, and should this be extended to more museums?
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04MR17
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Oh I'm really torn on this one. :argh:

On the one hand I would rather the government didn't pay for what could be seen as wasted expense if nobody attends a museum or exhibition.

On the other I'm not sure it's fair that those who can't afford to do this are deprived of the opportunity if a museum is paid for. Especially young children and families.
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CatusStarbright
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I definitely think that there is such a bias towards London in this respect, so it would be better if some of that support was extended to the regional areas to give more people access to culture and history. However, it's difficult to say that the government should be using taxpayer's money to support museums and galleries that get far fewer visitors. Therefore, I'm torn like 04.
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by CatusStarbright)
However, it's difficult to say that the government should be using taxpayer's money to support museums and galleries that get far fewer visitors.
I wonder what the cause and effect here is, really. If we had lots of good, free museums in our regional cities and towns, maybe people would be more likely to visit them as tourists, both domestically and even from abroad? (I honestly don't know – Liverpool has a really good set of free museums but I don't know if it gets much tourism off the back of them.)
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04MR17
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(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
(I honestly don't know – Liverpool has a really good set of free museums but I don't know if it gets much tourism off the back of them.)
I'd say so. They're usually quite well attended.
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Napp
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Given that most of them do receive various financial incentives, be it grants etc., from the tax payer the 'fair' option would be for them not to charge the general public (generally speaking at least). However, given that running said institutions is an inherently costly affair i wouldnt exactly find it completely outrageous for them to ticket visitors. After all, restoring/maintaining ancient pieces of art work and what not needs to be financed somehow.
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CatusStarbright
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(Original post by Saracen's Fez)
I wonder what the cause and effect here is, really. If we had lots of good, free museums in our regional cities and towns, maybe people would be more likely to visit them as tourists, both domestically and even from abroad? (I honestly don't know – Liverpool has a really good set of free museums but I don't know if it gets much tourism off the back of them.)
It's certainly possible yes. I think people would be generally more likely to go to museums if they're free. I found in France that most museums are free with a valid student card, so on both my summer school and year abroad I went to more museums than I do in a normal year in the UK.

I think that if the museums are free or at low cost, it boosts the number of things that people can go and see in a place and makes it a more attractive place for visitors.
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CatusStarbright
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(Original post by 04MR17)
I'd say so. They're usually quite well attended.
When I went to the Museum of Liverpool last summer it was really busy. Plus the cafe was bustling and the lunch I had there was really nice, and reasonably priced too!
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04MR17
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(Original post by CatusStarbright)
really nice, and reasonably priced
That is Liverpool in a nutshell.



The other thing to consider is the usage of museums by local schools for trips out. I'd be really keen to see some figures for that actually.
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Burton Bridge
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Yes they should but at a time when we cant house and feed everyone in the country, is this really what tax payers money should be spent on?
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Aph
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Depends which museums we are on about. The public should not be paying for the British Lawnmower Museum to be free for example, even if it is a cut above the rest.

But local history museums should ideally be free, I've been to some that aren’t and I don’t think you get much more, if anything, for your money. I agree with comments that the free museums are very london centric and it would be nice to see more free museums in hubs around the county. To be fair, that is mostly the case already. I think that Bristol’s museum is especially nice given that it’s free.
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barnetlad
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I enjoyed my free visit to the National Gallery on Wednesday. I'd encourage anyone who can get there to go. You have to book a time slot.
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